1,317 patients from 18 dentists took part in a written survey on patient evaluation of dental care. General satisfaction was high, but patients were critical concerning some aspects of dental care. On average, the aspects rated most often with "excellent" were hygiene in the practice, the possibility to get through to the practice on the telephone and quick service in case of urgent health problems. Most critical evaluations (on average) were given for waiting times, costs of the dental treatment for the patient and the range of magazines and written information in the waiting room. The highest statistical correlation to overall satisfaction (willingness to recommend this doctor to friends) showed the patients' assessments concerning the questions whether the doctor was listening to them and took enough time, as well as the result of the dental treatment from the patients' point of view. Differences of the survey results between practices were high. On average, patients of female dentists were more satisfied than patients of their male colleagues. Patients younger than 50 years and male patients were less satisfied than older patients and female patients. The patient surveys give important clues for quality management in the participating dental practices. The results of a patient survey should be evaluated against the background of the individual situation of the practice.